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Education in California

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Education in California

The educational system in California consists of public and private schools in the U.S. state of California, including the public University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges systems, private colleges and universities, and public and private elementary, middle school, and high schools.


In the Spanish colonial California, a prerequisite for promotion above the rank of corporal and the core criteria for promotion beyond, coupled with honesty, was literacy.[1] This formed an incentive to both learn to read and write for yourself and provide this for your children through whatever means possible. The Spanish policy at the time, as a means of controlling their citizens, was an opposition to popular education.[2] The first recorded school in California was opened in 1795 by Manuel de Vargas, a retired sergeant, in San Diego. Small schools taught by retired soldiers continued to operate through the revolution years and independence from Spain in 1821. A few school teachers are known by name during this time, one is José Antonio Carrillo.

Attempts were made to import educators to California from elsewhere in New Spain. Though at that time, fairly serious prison sentences were commuted in exchange for immigrating to California. Governor Pablo Vicente de Solá made education a core priority. After requests for government funds for school teachers went unanswered, he used his own wealth to fund a fellowship for two Spanish professors to establish a high school in Monterey. After several weeks they concluded life in California as unbearable and left. Subsequent governors continued to address the education issue but failed to gain traction for higher education. The first truancy law was issued in 1828 by Governor José María de Echeandía, ordered the commanding officers to compel parents to send their children to the schools which he had established. In 1829, throughout Alta California, there were 339 students in 11 primary schools. During this time a noted educator in San Diego was Friar Antonio Menendez and his 18 pupils. Private schools operated throughout this time. An example was opened by Don Guillermo Arnel near present day Salinas on December 10, 1833 on his plantation Rancho El Alisal. He named his university preparatory school "El Seminario del Patrocinio de San Jose" or "Colegio de San Jose". For the following 20 years of Mexican administration the public school system ebbed and flowed. At times there were few schools operating due to a revolving lack of funds, lack of interest, politics, and lack of educators.

In 1847 the governance of California changed to the United States of America. At the time of the transfer there were a few hundred literate residents in the state [3] out of a population of 26,000[4] for a 2% literacy rate.There were now funds available if the school existed. The details of this took time to work out, but from 1854 onwards there was a steady public education system present throughout the state of California. Attendance was not compulsory or universal, for example, in San Diego attendance hovered at 25%. The classes taught at the primary level were orthography, reading, writing, grammar, geography, arithmetic, algebra, history, French, and Spanish. From this foundation the California education system expanded to form secondary schools, and institutions of higher learning.[5] The first of these colleges was Minns' Evening Normal School founded in 1857. A teaching college established by the San Francisco city's high school system to educate their teachers. Later this college became San Jose State University.


California is the most populous state of the U.S. and has the most school students, with over 6.2 million in the 2005–06 school year, giving California more students in school than 36 states have in total population and one of the highest projected enrollments in the country.[6] About 25% of school students are English learners, compared to 9% nationally. Funding and staffing levels in California schools lag behind other states. In expenditure per pupil, California ranked 15th of the 50 states and District of Columbia in 2005–06. In teaching staff expenditure per pupil, California ranked 49th of 51. In overall teacher-pupil ratio, California was also 49th, with 21 students per teacher. Only Arizona and Utah were lower.[7] One of the biggest problems in the California school system is the high level of high school dropouts, especially among minority students. Approximately 22% of African Americans and Hispanic Californians are living in poverty and only 68% of students living below the poverty line will graduate from high school.[8] The state of California has in place the Dropout Recovery and Prevention Act (SB 65) as a governmental way of dealing with the high dropout rate in California. It was implemented in 1985 and was expanded in 2004 due to its success in lowering the state’s dropout rate. Senate Bill 65 initiated three new dropout prevention efforts: the Pupil Motivation and Maintenance Program, the Alternative Education Outreach Consultant (AEOC) Program, and the Educational Clinic Program.[9]

According to Governor Jerry Brown in 2014, "almost 30% are either undocumented or don't speak english."[10]

Universities and colleges

Public universities

The main state research university is the University of California (UC). The University of California has ten major campuses.[11] Each major UC campus is headed by a chancellor that is appointed by the Regents of the University of California.[12]

The ten major campuses of the University of California are located in Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Riverside, Merced and San Francisco. The University of California, San Francisco, teaches only graduate health-sciences students. The UC Hastings College of the Law, also in San Francisco, is affiliated with UC, but is not administered by the UC Regents. The UC system was originally intended to accept students from the top one-eighth (1/8th) of California high school graduates, however several of the schools in the UC system have become even more selective. The awarding of doctoral degrees from California public universities was originally intended to be the sole domain of the UC system, however several doctoral degrees are now also awarded by the Cal State system.

The University of California also administers one national laboratory directly for the United States Department of Energy: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The university indirectly manages Los Alamos National Laboratory through Los Alamos National Security, LLC and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.

The California State University (CSU) system is the largest university system in the United States.[13] The CSU was originally intended to accept students from the top one-third (1/3rd) of California high school graduates, however several of the schools in the CSU system have become much more selective. Many of the larger campuses, such as Cal Poly, Cal Poly Pomona, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Bernardino, Fresno State, Sacramento State, San Francisco State, San Diego State, and San José State (the oldest public university in California) have become more research oriented than they were in the past. A marked change and a shift from the California Master Plan for Higher Education began in 2007 as the CSU now grants doctoral level degrees (Ed.D.) in education. The CSU has also been given authority to grant many other Doctoral degrees, such as joint Ph.Ds with other universities, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and an Au.D. Kevin Starr (State Librarian emeritus) and others have argued that this small change is the beginning of a larger reorganization of higher education in California.

The California Community Colleges system provides lower division "General Education" courses, whose credit units are transferable to the CSU and UC systems, as well as vocational education, remedial education, and continuing education programs. It awards certificates and associate degrees. It is composed of 112 colleges organized into 72 districts, serving a student population of over 2.9 million.

Private universities

Notable private universities and colleges include Stanford University, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Southern California (USC), the University of San Francisco (USF), Santa Clara University, Pepperdine University, St. Mary's College, the University of the Pacific, Thomas Aquinas College, Touro University California, the Claremont Colleges, Occidental College, Westmont College, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (which administers the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA) and the Southern California Institute of Technology (SCIT).

California has hundreds of other private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions. This leads to many unique entertainment and educational opportunities for residents. For example, Southern California, with one of the highest densities of post-secondary institutions in the world, has a very large base of classically trained vocalists that compete in large choir festivals. In the Bay Area and near Los Angeles, there are numerous art and film schools, including the California College of the Arts and the CalArts Institute.

See also


  1. ^ Colonial Life in Spanish California During the North American Revolution By Leon G. Campbell, last accessed 7/21/2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Harrow, Neal; "California Conquered: The Annexation of a Mexican Province, 1846-1850"; p. 14-30; University of California Press; 1989; ISBN 978-0-520-06605-2
  4. ^
  5. ^ History of San Diego, 1542-1908 by William E. Smythe, Part Six: Chapter II : SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION, last accessed 7/21/2014.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Ed-Data Website, California". Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^  
    Lee, Tony (5 September 2014). "'"Gov. Jerry Brown: Nearly 30% of CA Kids Illegal or 'Don't Speak English. Brietbart. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "University of California - Campuses - The University of California campuses provide environments that foster world-class educational and research opportunities, generating a wide range of public benefits and services". Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  12. ^ "University of California News Room". Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  13. ^

External links

  • Google - public data: Education Statistics of California
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